…LO LO LO LO RA-DAMEL FALCAO. Here we are singing, after a draw at Aston Villa. This keeps United near the top of the table. Maybe not close enough, but with the way the team is playing, and all the injuries Van Gaal has had to deal with, third place is the best we could have hoped for.
A lot of us were optimistic going into the Villa game, as apart from United stringing wins together, Villa weren’t playing that well, though they had only lost their derby against West Brom in the past six games. But United had won all theirs, so surely there was every chance they would make this a seventh win in a row. It wasn’t to be though, even if United for once seemed to dominate and be the better side.
We were happy to see Falcao starting, which meant he must be getting close to being fully fit again, and it was nice to see Di Maria on the bench too. Villa didn’t do too much in the first half, but got the all important goal that saw them lead 1-0 at half-time. As good as Benteke’s goal was, he had it quite easy as Jonny Evans proved that he really can’t jump (I had wished that he had learned), and then gave him all the space he needed to control the ball and pick his spot to score.
Not to worry, United came out a lot better in the second half, and showed intent and better speed at getting at Villa. Thankfully De Gea was at his best too as he saved a very good header from the same Benteke. It seemed to wake the United players up, and soon after Ashley Young’s excellent cross found Falcao, who jumped better than Evans to head the ball coolly past Brad Guzan. When Agbonlahor was sent off for Villa (harsh decision), it seemed like there would only be one winner, but United didn’t create too much in the last half an hour, and if anything, Villa could have nicked it in the end, but none of the teams could find another goal and it finished 1-1.
United haven’t been playing well, so the winning run was bound to stop, and at least they got a point against a hard working team that will win more points against the big sides (they beat L’pool at Anfield already, though the Easter Champions can hardly be seen as big at present). On the positive side, it was great to see Falcao get a goal, and with more service we can be assured he’ll get more; Di Maria back from the bench is good too, this can only mean that he’ll get more minutes the next time out; and for once United were better than the opposition on all counts (apart from the score obviously).
There were also a few negatives that will need to be seen to so United can get better. Unfortunately Darren Fletcher was one of them, and though we love our football genius, it might be time to call it a day. Van Gaal probably knows this, and that’s why he named Carrick as the new vice-captain to replace Fletcher, who probably only played to replace the ill-stricken Fellaini. Though United did need a tough player in midfield, unfortunately Fletcher doesn’t seem to be the one to fill that role anymore, and it would have been better to start Carrick in midfield straight away, with someone else filling up at the back. Also, Johnny Evans seems better when he’s got someone more experienced next to him, as was the case when Ferdinand and Vidic were at the club.
It is slightly disappointing to drop points, as Van Gaal himself said, “City played badly in the first half against Palace, but still won 3-0, and that’s the difference if you want to win titles”.
Also, how small of the Villa fans to boo Ashley Young throughout the game? Was he supposed to stay there forever and not win anything, when he could (and did) move to a much bigger club and actually win trophies?
In other games in the league, L’pool and Arsenal played out a 2-2 draw, meaning both sets of supporters were left disappointed, and neither club closed the gap on the top four; Southampton beat a hapless Everton side 3-0, meaning Martinez’s side is 13 points worse off than at the same time last season (when they were laughing at us and David Moyes); Tottenham beat Burnley 2-1 to catch up with Arsenal in the table; and Chelsea walked over Stoke to beat Sparky’s side 2-0 and stay three points ahead of second placed Manchester City.
Elsewhere in the football world, Real Madrid have become World Champions in club football after beating Libertadores winners San Lorenzo 2-0, meaning Ancelotti won another trophy that Mourinho didn’t with the Spanish side; Napoli beat Juventus on penalties in the Italian Super Cup, meaning Benitez has won another trophy as manager (though Mourinho had won this while at Inter). The Portuguese manager will be a ‘happy one’ to see rivals of his winning trophies elsewhere eh?
Back to United related news, Sir Alex Ferguson has given an exclusive interview that BT Sport will show over Christmas, in which he talks about Van Gaal, Cantona, and the club in general; another very good interview regarding United was given by Rene Meulensteen to Raman Paul on this same website (read it here).
We now look forward to our next two fixtures over this Festive week. United host Newcastle at Old Trafford on Boxing Day (3pm UK time), then go to London to face Tottenham on Sunday the 28th of December (12pm UK time). We hope that another couple of wins will be in the bag by the time we update this post, with good performances to boot.
But first, and more importantly, we hope that everyone has an excellent Christmas, and Santa will bring you all that you’ve asked for. Until then…COME ON UNITED!!!